TOKYO – Ten climbers have died as strong winds and rain struck two mountains in northern Japan, police said Friday.
Nine died while climbing Mount Tomuraushi on Hokkaido, Japan's main northern island, said Hokkaido police spokesman Masafumi Yamasaki. Eight of them were part of an 18-member group tour, while the other was climbing alone. A 10th person died on another mountain on Hokkaido, he said.
The weather at the 7,024-foot Tomuraushi peak was bad Thursday with strong winds and rain, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency. The temperature in the area was lower than usual.
Yoshiaki Takeda, a local official near Mount Tomuraushi, said it was highly unusual to see such deadly accidents there.
"The mountain has several shelters. We hear sometimes that climbers sprain their ankles. But we are not aware of such a deadly accident taking place at the mountain in the past," Takeda said.
Police earlier had said one person was missing at Tomuraushi mountain, but Yamasaki said that climber was rescued.
He could not provide further details, including the cause of their deaths.
Kyodo said most of the dead were middle-aged climbers, but Yamasaki could not confirm the report. The Kyodo News agency and other media said several members of the group on Tomuraushi made it off the mountain safely.
There were no reports that any foreigners were among the 10 dead.